Old English Sheepdog


The Old English Sheepdog or Bobtail has a very distinctive shaggy coat and an unusual rolling gait that gives it the appearance of a small bear. The Bobtail has a square build and all the fur makes the dog appear fairly short and squat. The loins of the Sheepdog are higher than the withers. The Bobtail’s head is fairly square with wide-set eyes and small ears that hang flat against the head. In countries that permit it, the tail is normally docked at the first joint – hence the name ‘Bobtail’. The Sheepdog’s outer coat is coarse, long and luxuriant without curl. The undercoat is dense and waterproof. The Bobtail’s coat colors are shades of grey, blue or grizzle – with or without white markings and/or white socks. The Sheepdog stands 21 to 26 inches tall at shoulder height and females weigh from 60 to 85 pounds and males from 80 to 100 pounds. Bobtails are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Herding Group.


The origin of the Sheepdog is largely unknown but its progenitors likely include the Scottish Bearded Collie and other European herding dogs. The Bobtail seems to have been developed in the early 19th century in the South-western Counties of England. The tradition of docking the tail began as a way of identifying herding dogs which were exempt from taxes. The Bobtail gained tremendous popularity by starring in Disney movies in the 1960’s. The fact that Bobtail puppies are irresistible balls of fluff encouraged even more popularity. This led to a lot of over breeding by puppy mills and resulted in the introduction of genetic defects in the bloodlines which current reputable breeders are working on eliminating. The Bobtail was ranked 73rd out of 154 dog breeds in 2004 AKC registrations.


The Bobtail is an intelligent, playful, good-natured and enthusiastic dog. The Sheepdog actually seems to have a good sense of humour and loves to clown around. The Bobtail loves to be the centre of attention and can be quite stubborn. The Bobtail loves children and if socialized and obedience trained properly will make a great family dog. However owners should be aware that this large hairy dog can track a lot of dirt and water around the house and will require a lot of time for grooming. Since the Bobtail will need a lot of grooming you must start obedience training and grooming as soon as you get your puppy, otherwise you will end up wrestling with a large dog at least once per week. The Sheepdog is agile and intelligent and can be trained to perform a variety of agility sports. The Bobtail is a friendly and loving dog and once socialized gets along well with other pets, strangers and their children. Because the Sheepdog is so large and can
be stubborn unless properly socialized and trained, it will probably do best with an experienced owner.


The Bobtail was a herding dog breed and during adolescence needs lots of exercise with its family. The Sheepdog won’t exercise on its own if you put him in the backyard by himself. The Bobtail needs to be part of the family and participate in all their activities. This breed loves to play ball and are excellent retrievers. The Sheepdog can adapt well to living in an apartment or to living on a farm, as long as it is involved in its family’s activities and gets to go on walks or play ball on a frequent basis.


The owners of Bobtails must be prepared to put in a minimum of 3 hours per week grooming this large dog. These dogs must be groomed and brushed thoroughly at least once per week. You must brush deeply right down to the skin paying special attention to the tangled areas such as the trousers and elbows. When the Sheepdog is shedding, it is not unusual to collect almost an entire garbage bag of hair. Keep the inside of the ears cleaned and trimmed and trim excess hair between the paw pads. The beard and moustache will need washing on a regular basis to prevent discoloration.

Health Considerations:

The Bobtail can be expected to live for 10 to 12 years and can have a number of common inherited diseases. The most prevalent and serious disorder is hip dysplasia. Other less common diseases include: autoimmune anemia, cataracts, deafness, diabetes, entropion, eye diseases (such as progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia) and skin conditions. If you are buying a Bobtail puppy from a breeder, you should ask to see the parent’s OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificates and their recent CERF (Canine Eye Registry) results. Sheepdogs do not do well in hot humid conditions and are susceptible to heat stroke.

Article type: xdogbreed